Manuel Medina, in the first defense of the featherweight championship he won last August, won his 13th consecutive fight after challenger Tom Johnson cut him with an accidental head butt in the ninth round before 5,775 at the Forum Monday night.
Medina, from Tijuana, had the fight well in hand by the ninth round when he and Johnson, from New York, clashed heads at 1:35 of the ninth. With blood flowing down Medina’s face, referee Lou Moret stopped the action and summoned ringside physician Robert Karns, who immediately stopped the fight.
“The cut was wide open and it was bleeding directly into his left eye,” Karns said.
Medina was ahead on all three judges’ cards, 76-75, 78-73 and 77-74. The Times card favored Medina, 76-75. The official result was a technical decision.
Medina, who recently turned 20, improved to 42-3 in defending his International Boxing Federation championship. He also earned $75,000. Johnson, 27 and now 26-2-1, made $25,000.
Johnson won the first two rounds in the view of most ringsiders. During those rounds, he landed straight right hands almost at will. But several rounds later, it was Medina who was landing rights at will.
Some of the fire might have gone out of Johnson when Medina landed a booming left hook to the chin at the bell ending the second round. After that, for the most part, Medina became the aggressor.
Medina, an unorthodox fighter who seems too awkward and too heavy-footed to be of championship caliber, was simply too strong for Johnson. Over the final two minutes of the fifth, Medina had it all his way.
The best round was the sixth, when both landed punches in several exchanges, but Johnson seemed to get the worst of it in all of them.
Medina won the title in August at the Forum when he won a decision over Troy Dorsey.
Medina put Johnson down with an obvious low blow in the seventh, when Moret gave the challenger about 20 seconds to recover. Afterward, he said the low blow might have been the difference.
“The low blow changed the momentum, but hopefully I’ll get a return fight,” Johnson said. Forum matchmaker Tony Curtis said afterward he would try to get a rematch.
“When we clashed heads, I felt like I was getting my second wind, like I was getting back into the fight,” Johnson said.
“He’s a good fighter, his hand speed was better than I expected.”
Medina hit Johnson low a second time, with 10 seconds left in the eighth. Johnson complained, but Moret, blocked out, missed it.
On the undercard, Antonio Ramirez of Puebla, Mexico, knocked out Richard Clarke of Jamaica in the fifth round in a Forum super-flyweight tournament fight. Clarke was ahead on points at the time, but was knocked down twice in the fifth, the second time by an overhand right.